WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A piece of Wichita’s history is getting a much needed makeover.
The Kansas Wildlife Exhibit located in Riverside has been around since the 1980’s. After the city said something had to be done to revitalize it or else it would be shut down, the community stepped in to help.
“A group of us said no, we’ve got to keep it,” said Sharon Fearey, Friends of Kansas Wildlife Exhibit.
The task to renovate this historic Wichita site has been going on for three years.
Fearey says as a little girl she remembers coming to this place that was once the Wichita Zoo and after she found out the future of it was up in the air, she didn’t hesitate to act.
“It’s a great way to educate people for free about the native animals of Kansas,” explained Fearey.
The neighborhood group raised almost $200,000 to keep this place alive. Cleaning up the grounds and adding a new security system is already underway.
“People can come in and sometimes they have a little too much fun to let the animals out or feed the animals,” stated Fearey.
“It isn’t just Riverside’s park, this park belongs to the entire city,” said Kathy Dittmer.
Dittmer is a proud resident of Riverside, after 25 years in this neighborhood, she’s happy to know her favorite wildlife exhibit is here to stay.
“It is too important for the hundreds, possible thousands of people that come here. Every spring this is the stop on the school tour to the museums,” Dittmer explained.
Though the future is looking bright for this Riverside gem, the work is not over yet.
“I’m excited about it now. I see it as a job that does not end,” stated Dittmer.
The final renovations to Kansas Wildlife Exhibit are expected to begin this fall, and will be completed by the end of 2017.
Most of the renovations are funded through grants, but, the money to operate the wildlife exhibit is provided by the Wichita Parks Foundation, the same group organizing the “Red, White and Boom” fireworks show on July 4th that KSN is proud to sponsor.